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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 28th Feb 2020 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Greene King makes executive changes as it restructures managed pubs division: Brewer and retailer Greene King has made changes to its executive board as it moves from a centralised commercial and operations structure for its managed pub division to three divisional teams, each led by a managing director. Andy Wilson has been appointed managing director of the Destination Food Brands division, while Karen Bosher has been appointed managing director of Premium, Urban and Venture Brands. Wilson and Bosher will both join the executive board. Wilson, who has been with Greene King for seven years, has been interim director of the Destination division while Bosher has been running the Local division since the departure of chief operating officer Richard Lewis about nine months ago. Dan Robinson, currently central operations director, will move to run the Local division on an interim basis while the company looks externally for a permanent replacement. Robinson will then move to a new role in the business. Greene King will also recruit a group chief marketing officer to the board with responsibility to develop brands and customer experience across the group. As a result of the move to the divisional model chief commercial officer Phil Thomas, whose current responsibilities include marketing, trading and food development, will leave the business at the end of April after three years. Chief executive Nick Mackenzie said: “These changes are an important step in setting the business up to deliver our future strategy and culture, underpinned by a new purpose and company values. I’d like to congratulate Karen and Andy on their appointments to the executive board and thank Dan for leading the Locals division on an interim basis. I’d also like to thank Phil for all he has done for the business over the past three years and wish him well for the future.”

Industry News:

Mark Wingett to look at growing threat of coronavirus on sector in latest Premium column: Propel insights editor Mark Wingett will explore the growing threat of the coronavirus outbreak on the sector in his latest Propel Premium column, which will be sent to subscribers at 5pm on Friday (28 February). He will also take a more in-depth look at The Restaurant Group’s full-year results. Meanwhile, Bixteth Partners co-founder Simon French will explore whether the sector is experiencing another case of déjà vu with change painfully slow to effect despite everybody’s best efforts, and Premium Diary will listen in on the latest sector whispers. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out, discounts to attend Propel conferences and events, and regular columns from Mark Wingett. Subscribers also receive access to our database of multi-site companies, which has grown to 1,500 businesses. Propel has launched its new-look Premium Club, where readers can save money by receiving a pair of free tickets to one of four conferences in 2020. Subscribers will be able to choose to use a pair of free tickets to one of the following conferences – The Delivery Conference (Tuesday, 21 April), The Finance and Investment Conference (Thursday, 14 May), The Casual Dining Summit (Monday, 12 October) or The New Concept Conference (Monday, 19 October). The normal cost of two tickets to these events is £490 plus VAT for operators and £690 plus VAT for suppliers. An annual premium subscription costs £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers. Email

Consumers demanding more from operators when it comes to allergen information: Consumers are demanding more from hospitality operators when it comes to allergens than simply ticking the legislative box, according to the latest insights from Zonal and CGA’s GO Technology research. Genuine engagement, with on-demand access to accurate, up-to-date allergen information is key, with more than four-fifths (83%) of the 5,000 UK adults surveyed expecting details to be available online. Consumers also want to access the facts when they are in-venue, with three-quarters (75%) expecting to see allergen information on menus, for example. Almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents also expect staff to be able to provide verbal information about allergens when they order, while more than two-fifths (44%) see it as the responsibility of managers and supervisors. The report said the challenge for operators was ensuring accurate allergen information was available at every customer touch point – whether they were searching for a venue on their phone or walking in off the street. The survey also found young adults are most likely to seek allergen information in advance, with three-quarters (75%) of respondents aged 18 to 34 seeking information compared with less than three-fifths (56%) of those aged 55 and over. Women and Londoners in the survey were also more likely to seek allergen and nutritional information. Zonal director of online commerce Helen McMillan said: “Recipe, menu and purchasing systems must be aligned to deliver the level of accurate and detailed information consumers need and expect.” Karl Chessell, business unit director, retail and food at CGA, said: “Consumers want genuine engagement and comprehensive, accurate information about allergens – and they expect to be able to access it easily. From websites to menus and staff, brands need to be able to talk confidently about allergens and inspire confidence among their guests. If they do so, there’s an excellent opportunity to secure the respect and loyalty of the growing number of people with dietary requirements and establish a competitive advantage.”

Government response provides platform for rates reform but ‘swift action required’: UKHospitality has welcomed the government’s commitment to carry out a fundamental review of business rates but urged it to “act swiftly”. Responding to the Treasury Committee inquiry into the impact of business rates, the government also acknowledged failings in the appeals mechanism. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “It is good to see a commitment to fundamental reform of the rates system – the government now needs to push ahead and fulfil its promise without delay. It has indicated it will listen to suggestions for reform so we will liaise with them to make sure the system works for hospitality. In particular it’s good to see recognition that the appeals system, as it currently stands, takes far too long. Businesses are being left in limbo as they try to navigate the process and it needs streamlining urgently.”

JD Wetherspoon – sick pay rules apply in event of coronavirus self-isolation: JD Wetherspoon has said staff will be subject to regular statutory sick pay rules if they self-isolate owing to coronavirus. Wetherspoon, which has 45,000 employees, said the virus was being treated like any other illness. Under statutory sick pay rules, an employee isn’t paid for the first three days of absence and then only if they earn at least £118 a week. Strictly speaking, there’s no right to sick pay for anyone in self-isolation. However, arbitration service ACAS said it was “good practice” for employers to treat it as sick leave or agree for the time to be taken as holiday. Statutory sick pay is worth £94.25 a week for eligible employees who have been off work owing to illness for at least four days in a row. Some employers operate more generous schemes. JD Wetherspoon is thought to be one of the first major employers to explicitly outline its policy, although it has received some criticism from wage campaigners on social media. A Wetherspoon spokesman told the BBC: “In line with the company’s established guidelines, employees required to isolate themselves are being treated in the same way as any employee who is off work for any form of sickness. Staff who are eligible to statutory sick pay receive payment after three waiting days, which is in accordance with legislation. Coronavirus is being treated like any other illness.”

Brits have already paid as much in beer duty as Germans will in whole of 2020: British drinkers have already paid as much in beer duty as those in Germany will in the whole of 2020, despite them consuming almost double the amount. Beer duty raises £3.4bn a year for the Treasury – four times more than any other European nation. Spain brews almost as much beer as the UK yet pays 11 times less beer duty. The contrast in beer duty was highlighted during a protest by pub owner and Great British Bake Off winner Candice Brown outside Parliament. The protest, backed by the Long Live The Local campaign,  saw Brown “trapped” under a giant pint glass to represent the “enormous” financial pressure pubs face. Long Live The Local is asking the government to listen to the 250,000 Brits who have signed a petition asking for a cut in beer duty in the forthcoming Budget. David Cunningham, programme director of Long Live The Local, said: “Pubs employ almost 600,000 people and on average a pub contributes more than £100,000 to its local economy. Despite this pubs are overtaxed, with each pub paying an average of £140,000 every year through a range of taxes, one of which is beer duty. Beer duty in the UK is 11 times higher than in Germany and Spain, which is why we’re asking for a modest cut to save thousands of jobs and protect the future of pubs.”

KFC to turn Netherlands branch meat-free for a week: KFC is to make one of its branches in the Netherlands meat-free for a week. The move will see an outlet in Rotterdam replace all chicken with Quorn to celebrate the country’s Week Without Meat, which takes place from 9 to 15 March. KFC is one of many major chains that has added a vegan burger to its menu to meet growing demand for plant-based alternatives. However, it’s the first time it has turned a site meat-free. Philip Mansbridge, executive director of ProVeg UK, said: “For a branch of KFC to go 100% meat-free for a full week is nothing short of pioneering. We are seeing a glimpse into the future of fast food. This is a landmark moment, showing the industry’s need and willingness to adapt to changing consumer preferences for tastes towards healthier and more sustainable foods. Public awareness around the environmental and health consequences of eating meat is growing fast. This branch of KFC is listening – and it sends a very powerful message.”

US restaurant sales to hit record $899bn in 2020, opportunity lies with takeaway: US restaurant industry sales will reach a record high of $899bn (£697bn) this year, up 4% on 2019, according to a report released by the National Restaurant Association (NRA). The report also revealed off-premise sales will be a prominent force of growth in 2020, while consumer interest in healthy menu items and low-alcohol drinks will remain strong. “Now in its 11th consecutive year of growth, the restaurant industry is adapting to consumer preferences faster than ever before,” said Hudson Riehle, NRA’s senior vice-president of the research and knowledge group. “Consumers tell us they want to use restaurants more than they are now, and the challenge for the industry is meeting consumers where they want to be. We expect this year will see growth in off-premises options, technology that streamlines operations, and more restaurants that are talking about their increased sustainable and eco-friendly practices.” The report said the industry will provide a projected 15.6 million restaurant and foodservice jobs in 2020, with the number of older staff expected to rise sharply. Meanwhile, more than three-quarters (76%) of consumers said they were more likely to visit a restaurant that offered locally sourced food and almost four-fifths (79%) said they were more likely to visit a restaurant that offered healthy options.

Wrap It Up! founder Faisal Haque passes away: Faisal Haque, founder and board member of London-based healthy eating chain Wrap It Up!, has passed away. Haque founded the business in 2006 and it has grown to 12 sites in London and two in Manchester plus international openings in India (three sites) and Pakistan (a site in Lahore). Wrap It Up! managing director Tayub Mushtaq wrote: “It is with profound sadness we announce the passing of Wrap It Up! founder Faisal Haque. Faisal passed away on Monday (24 February) surrounded by his loving family and friends. With more than 20 years of experience, Faisal’s long-term commitment, work ethic, energetic vision and sound financial practices helped grow Wrap It Up! into the food chain it is today. It was a great privilege to know Faisal and to work alongside him. We cannot express enough our immense gratitude towards Faisal for his support and friendship during this time. We will continue Faisal’s vision for the company and would like to pay tribute to his invaluable contribution.”

Company News:

Brasserie Bar Co promotes Richard Ferrier to managing director: Brasserie Bar Co, the owner of White Brasserie Company and Brasserie Blanc, has promoted Richard Ferrier to managing director, Propel has learned. Ferrier moves up from chief commercial officer of the Mark Derry-chaired business, which operates 20 pubs and 17 brasseries. Ferrier started his career in corporate finance at Zolfo Cooper – now AlixPartners – specialising in mergers and acquisitions and debt restructuring in the leisure sector. He joined Brasserie Bar Co in strategic planning in 2012 before moving into operations for the brasserie and pub divisions. He became operations director of Brasserie Blanc in 2016, then chief customer officer of the group overseeing commercial elements of marketing, food, drinks and property. The company said as managing director Ferrier would have full responsibility for the performance and strategy of the business. It said: “He will play a key role in meeting the company’s ambitious growth targets and continue to drive its outstanding reputation for excellence.” Derry added: “Richard’s track record, cross-functional experience and work ethic are second to none. Having someone of Richard’s calibre in this role will underpin the strategy and ambition of the group. He brings with him an incredible depth of knowledge and experience, which will be vital as we continue to grow and develop our pub and brasserie concepts.” Ferrier said: “Brasserie Bar Co has a deserved reputation as one of the leading operators in the hospitality sector. We have a tremendous opportunity to grow further and I’m privileged to work alongside some of the industry’s most talented professionals.” Last month the company announced sales for the year to the end of June 2019 rose 6.7% to £57.8m as it described the previous 12 months as a “watershed” for the business as it achieved its transformation into a “market-leading food-led pub company”. 

Rosa’s Thai appoints operations director, lines up Waterloo opening: TriSpan-backed Rosa’s Thai Café has strengthened its management team with the appointment of Mac Plumpton as operations director, Propel has learned. Plumpton joined the Gavin Adair-led business at the turn of the year after stepping down as managing director of Tapas Revolution in 2019. He spent more than nine years at Tapas Revolution, including more than three as managing director. He joins 19-strong Rosa’s after it recently opened its third regional site, in Manchester, and looks to strengthen its London estate. Propel understands the company has secured a site in The Cut, near Waterloo, for an opening this summer and is also close to taking on a site in Queensway. The brand will also add to its fledgling regional estate with an opening in Birmingham this year, at the new Paradise development, alongside Dishoom and Vinoteca. Propel understands healthy fast food brand Leon is also in talks to open at the development. Following launches in Liverpool and Leeds, Rosa’s will open its third regional venue – at the former Handmade Burger Co site in Manchester’s Deansgate – this spring. Saiphin and Alex Moore opened the first permanent Rosa’s Thai Cafe in London in 2008. It has grown to 15 venues in the capital. Thomas Rose, of P-Three, acts for Rosa’s.

Roxy Leisure makes Birmingham debut for ninth site, appoints finance director: Roxy Leisure, which operates eight sites across Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham under the Roxy Ball Room, Roxy Lanes and Roxy Arcade banners, has made its debut in Birmingham. Roxy Ball Room has opened a venue in Birmingham’s creative quarter in Digbeth that features a ten-lane bowling alley, Olympic-standard table tennis tables, American pool, 18ft tournament-standard shuffleboard and traditional arcade games, accompanied by a rock and indie soundtrack and an American-inspired menu. At the same time, Propel understands Peter Mummery has joined Roxy Leisure as finance director. Mummery was previously managing director at secondary education business i-to-i UK. Roxy has been joined in the creative quarter by retro arcade games bar concept NQ64, which has opened its third site to join its venues in Manchester and Liverpool. NQ64 specialises in late-night bars offering classic consoles and arcade machines alongside a themed drinks menu and old-school soundtrack. James Craig, of The Digbeth Estate/Oval Real Estate, which owns almost 100 sites in Digbeth, said: “The arrival of NQ64 and Roxy Ball Room in Digbeth further bolsters its reputation as a vibrant destination in its own right. The openings are part of our strategy to bring fresh leisure content to Digbeth – and there’s more to come.” Last month Roxy Leisure received a £7.5m investment from private equity firm Foresight Group. Matt and Ben Jones launched the first Roxy site in 2013 with its sites offering a range of entertainment. The investment will be used in part as growth capital to support the company’s expansion into additional locations in the UK, with openings planned for 2020 including second venues in Manchester and Nottingham. At the time, Foresight investment manager Rob Jones said: “Roxy demonstrates some of the most attractive leisure sector performance metrics we’ve seen and the growth of the business in recent years has been impressive.” Foresight Group backs other sector companies including Nottingham-based coffee roaster and retailer 200 Degrees and Indian street food concept Mowgli.

Junkyard Golf lines up Newcastle opening: Crazy golf operator Junkyard Golf, which is currently in private equity talks, has lined up an opening in Newcastle. The Mat Lake-led business has applied to open at a site on the corner of Clayton Street and Newgate Street. The group is also believed to be in talks on a site in Glasgow. In December, Propel revealed Ignite Growth, which came close to investing in Indochinese restaurant operator Banana Tree a few years ago, had moved ahead of two other investment firms in the race to acquire a stake in Junkyard Golf. Ignite is still believed to be in talks on investing in the business. Last year Propel revealed five-strong Junkyard, which Chris Legh, Bart Murphy, Lyndon Higginson and Lake launched as a pop-up in Manchester in 2015, had appointed Clearwater International to review its options. The four directors remain sole owners and have so far funded growth themselves. It’s thought Lake plans to stay on with the business but the other three could look to sell the majority of their stakes. Junkyard Golf’s sites are in London, Manchester, Oxford, Liverpool and Leeds. Lake said Junkyard was “mapping” its next phase of expansion, with sights set on two more London venues and cities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh and Sheffield.

Shaughnessy steps down as Chick ‘n’ Sours operations director: Ben Shaughnessy, former chief operating officer of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group Australia, has stepped down as operations director at Chick ‘n’ Sours, Propel has learned. Shaughnessy joined the then three-strong London-based chicken concept in September 2018 following eight years with Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, including a stint as brand director. Earlier this week David Wolanski, co-founder of Chick ‘n’ Sours and sister concept Chik’n, told Propel the company was “100% ready” to open more sites under the latter brand having completed the concept’s “reinvigoration”. A third Chik’n will open in Upper Street, Islington, in April after it is converted from Chick ‘n’ Sours. Wolanski said when the site was acquired in 2017 it was meant to be for Chik’n but, because he and co-founder Carl Clarke were unhappy with the concept at the time, they decided to launch it as Chick ‘n’ Sours instead. Last year Chik’n, which is backed by Freston Ventures and Active Partners, opened its second site, in Wardour Street, Soho. In December Chik’n appointed Jon Green, formerly of Prezzo, as managing director.

Nick Nairn opens family-friendly restaurant in Stirlingshire: Scottish chef Nick Nairn has opened a restaurant in Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire. Nick’s has launched in Henderson Street at a site formerly occupied by restaurant Jam Jar. Nairn is running Nick’s with wife Julia, with the site offering 75 covers inside and 60 outside. The family friendly venue offers contemporary cafe and bistro dishes such as venison saddle with beetroot, crowdie tartlet, blueberries and potato rösti; and garam marsala-roasted root vegetable curry. There is also Roma-style pizza and gourmet hotdogs. Nairn said: “I was born and brought up just down the road from Bridge of Allan so this is something of a homecoming for me and my family. In short, it’s a family-run restaurant that will appeal to other families, with food recognisable but cooked really well and given a contemporary twist.” Nairn also runs Nick Nairn Cook School on the shores of Lake of Menteith and The Kailyard By Nick Nairn restaurant at Doubletree Hilton in Dunblane.

Pure confirms airport debut: Healthy food-to-go group Pure has confirmed it will make its airport debut next month with an opening at Gatwick. As Propel revealed at the start of the year, the 21-strong group, in which Whitbread has a 51% stake, will open in the airport’s North Terminal. The company-owned site will open on Friday, 13 March on the mezzanine level as the brand’s fifth site in a major transport hub, joining Network Rail sites in Waterloo, Victoria, London Bridge and Liverpool Street stations. Pure, which serves more than 100,000 customers a week, said it would aim to deliver food to go to airport visitors in less than a minute, with the menu designed to offer easy-to-eat, portable food that was ideal for eating on board an aircraft. The company stated: “Passengers can choose from a delicious, nutritious range of fast, fresh food that will include the best of Pure. Free still and sparkling water will be available as well as Pure’s 50p reusable cup discount.” Pure founder Spencer Craig added: “Pure is ideally placed to fill the gap in food to go at Gatwick North. We are all excited to put our expertise and speed of service experience to work in our first airport location.” Said Takhamt joined the business in August as its first chief operating officer following roles in operations and development at Pret A Manger, Itsu, EAT and Cojean.

Fearnley-Whittingstall closes River Cottage Kitchen in Bristol: High-profile chef and campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has announced he will close his River Cottage Kitchen in Bristol after seven years of trading. The chef closed River Cottage Kitchen in Plymouth in 2017 and sold a site operating under the concept in Bath in 2011. In a statement on the company’s website, Fearnley-Whittingstall put the closure down to “rising costs and challenging market conditions as well as the size and location of the site”. He said: “Following a full review of our business we have made the difficult decision to cease trading at our Bristol site. We’ve had a wonderful seven years in Bristol and I’m deeply saddened we can’t find a way to continue trading there. I have a strong personal connection to Bristol, having lived around the corner from the restaurant for most of the past four years. I hope River Cottage will return to the city in the future. I would like to thank our amazing team, which has worked tirelessly over the years making our restaurant a fantastic place to eat and drink. A huge thanks also to all our wonderful customers who have supported us over the years and our brilliant suppliers, who have helped us serve the region’s finest produce.” The restaurant will continue trading until Friday, 27 March, with staff offered employment at other sites where possible. The River Cottage group includes restaurants in Axminster and Winchester and a farm and cookery school at its headquarters in Devon. It also has a presence at Whipsnade Zoo and HMS Belfast.

Italian street food concept Wolf eyes Scotland debut: Italian street food restaurant Wolf has applied to open its first site in Scotland. The company, which is led by Tim Entwistle, has lined up an opening in the former JD Wetherspoon pub in Glasgow’s Bothwell Street. The company opened its sixth site last summer in Nottingham’s Market Street, while it also operates two sites in Reading, two in Manchester and one in Chiswick after previously operating sites in Leeds and Boxpark Wembley. Wolf offers an Italian street food menu including salad, pasta, piada and focaccia.

Shoot The Bull acquires remaining Solita sites: Hull-based bar and restaurant company Shoot The Bull has acquired the two remaining Solita burger and steak restaurants in Manchester for an undisclosed sum. Chris Harrison-led Shoot The Bull has taken on the sites in Didsbury and the Northern Quarter. A Shoot The Bull spokesman said: “Your favourite dishes will be staying at Didsbury and NQ. Plus, you’ll soon see the introduction of exciting new food created by Shoot The Bull!” The Solita business fell into liquidation in February 2019, with its Prestwich site closing later that year. Owner Simon Pogson started again under a new company name, SP Restaurants, and retained the Northern Quarter and Didsbury sites as well as El Taquero Mexican restaurant in the city centre, which closed last month. Shoot The Bull’s other sites are The Old House pubs in York and Hull, Shoot The Bull in Hull Truck Theatre and Rotisserie & Grill at the Kommune food court in Sheffield.

Mathew Carver to launch floating cheese restaurant at Paddington Central: Mathew Carver, who is behind Camden Market’s Cheese Bar and Pick & Cheese in Seven Dials Market, is taking to the water for his next project. Carver will launch the Cheese Barge in April, a restaurant moored on the Grand Union Canal at Paddington Central. The boat, which is being built in Somerset, has been inspired by the nautically themed Electa Bookshop in Venice. Below deck, a 40-cover restaurant will be overseen by executive chef Ross Keeling and head chef Reagan Ellenbroek, who promise “honest British dishes using small producer cheese”. Upstairs, the open-air deck will provide a casual spot for wine, cheese and charcuterie. Carver said: “Hailing from Jersey I spent my childhood years messing around in boats so when the opportunity to open the Cheese Barge came along, I couldn’t say no. The fact it was British-made by craftsmen appealed to our continued efforts to support British industry. We’ve always set out to create fun restaurant experiences and what could be more fun than eating the best of British cheese on the Grand Union Canal?”

Budweiser Brewing Group UK & Ireland reports high single-digit growth in 2019: Budweiser Brewing Group UK & Ireland, part of Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), has reported high single-digit growth in 2019. Sales of Corona were up 11.7% as it increased its footprint in the on-trade, while Stella Artois continued to grow year-on-year. Its no and low-alcohol portfolio performed well, with Bud Light growing in value and volume and achieving double-digit growth in the on-trade. Meanwhile, its craft and speciality brands had a “great” year in 2019, with Camden Hells and Camden Pale Ale growing in the on and off-trade, while Goose Island IPA saw double-digit growth. President Paula Lindenberg said: “We are focused on accelerating growth, especially in the super premium segment with Corona and Camden, making an impact in sustainable brewing by brewing all our beers with 100% renewable electricity, and working to create a nation of smart drinkers by enhancing our no and low-alcohol portfolio.” Globally, AB InBev is forecasting first-quarter earnings will drop 10% because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Canary Wharf-based Italian restaurant reopens with refocused offer: Canary Wharf-based Italian restaurant Bella Cosa has relaunched with a refocused offer following a major refurbishment. The revamped restaurant focuses on a more casual dining experience with head chef Francesco Mammetti bringing experience from his time at Novikov in Mayfair. Bella Cosa’s offering now focuses on regional Italian food such as pizza, including a create your own version, classic pasta dishes and three risottos including a lobster option alongside seasonal Italian classics. The all Italian wine list features six whites and six reds from iconic regions. The South Quay site offers views of the wharf and includes a window into the kitchen and a bar at the front.

Two North Wales properties in hands of receivers go on market: Two North Wales properties in the hands of receivers have been put up for sale. Plas Glynllifon Mansion in Llandwrog is being marketed off a guide price of £2m, while Seiont Manor Hotel has a guide price of £1.5m. Seiont Manor is an 18th century farmstead at the foot of Mount Snowdon and until last month operated as a 28-bedroom hotel. The property also features a 40-foot indoor swimming pool, a restaurant and brasserie. Plas Glynllifon is a grade I-listed building that used to belong to Lord Newborough. The property is midway through a renovation but has yet to trade as a hotel and is in a state of disrepair. Fleurets has been instructed by James Liddiment and Paul Greenhalgh, of Duff & Phelps, to market the properties.

Brunning & Price opens pub with rooms in Warwickshire: Brunning & Price, the gastro-pub brand owned by The Restaurant Group, has launched The Bell in Alderminster, Warwickshire, for its latest site. The 18th century coaching inn is near Stratford-upon-Avon and is part of the historic Alscot Estate. The Bell offers eight bedrooms, one of them a suite, while a private dining room seats 18 with views across the lawns from its own high-level terrace. Brunning & Price operates more than 70 pub restaurants, mainly in north west England and North Wales but with a growing number in the Midlands and south. Last month it acquired The Rake in the Cheshire village of Little Stanney from brewer and retailer Greene King.

Brothers expands cider range, Greene King stocks new tutti frutti flavour: Cider-maker Brothers Drinks Co is expanding its range with two new flavours – marshmallow and tutti frutti. The move follows the popularity of its rhubarb and custard cider, with sales growing 119% in 2019, and Parma violet flavour, the third most profitable fruit cider launch of last year. Both flavours will be on sale from 1 April, with marshmallow available in 330ml and 500ml bottles and tutti frutti in 330ml bottles. Brewer and retailer Greene King will offer the tutti frutti flavour at 1,000 sites, including Hungry Horse. Showerings Cider Mill managing director Matthew Showering said: “We always try to provide meaningful innovation in the fruit cider category and have found Greene King to be an invaluable collaborator in this quest.” Calum Cameron, senior drinks category manager at Greene King, added: “The demand for innovative fruit cider is growing, particularly among Generation Z and millennial customers. We believe this is a combination that will capture our guest’s imagination and taste buds.”

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